Tag Archives: John McCain

C’mon, Ms. Sadler, just say you’re sorry

Kelly Sadler works in a White House where the Big Man — the president — never apologizes for anything.

She need not follow Donald John Trump’s lead. All she has to do to make an idiotic story dissipate is to apologize publicly to the man she disparaged so cruelly.

The man is Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain. He is fighting a grievous illness, brain cancer. Sadler, a mid-level White House communications office staffer, was attending a private meeting when she blurted out an insult directed toward Sen. McCain.

McCain had spoken against CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. He doesn’t like her stance on torturing enemy combatants. He has urged his Senate colleagues to reject her nomination to lead the CIA.

Sadler said McCain’s objection “doesn’t matter because he’s dying anyway.”

The story won’t go away. It should go away. All the staffer has to do is to stand before the nation and say she is sorry for her disparaging remarks aimed at a genuine war hero. You see, Sen. McCain’s opposition to torture comes the hard way: He experienced more than five years of it while being held captive during the Vietnam War.

Sadler’s demeaning remark has no place coming out of the mouth of a White House official who, I hasten to add, works for the public. That’s you and me, dear reader.

The president is entitled to withhold any apology if he chooses. My hope is that he hasn’t instructed Kelly Sadler to follow him down the path of arrogance.

My fear, though, is that he has done precisely that very thing.

Shameful.

‘A little bit of a victim’? Give it up, man!

Matt Schlapp needs to be slapped bald-headed.

The conservative activist has taken up some form of defense for the White House communications aide who said that Sen. John McCain’s criticism of CIA nominee Gina Haspel “doesn’t matter, because he’s dying anyway.”

The aide’s name is Kelly Sadler. Schlapp has defended her saying she’s a “little bit of a victim.”

No she’s not! She’s a thoughtless mid-level clown who popped off in private with what has been described as a “bad joke.”

McCain doesn’t like Haspel’s view of torturing enemy combatants. He urged the Senate reject her confirmation. Yes, he’s battling a life-threatening disease. However, he is of sound mind and is entitled to speak his mind about an important policy matter. And there is no one in the U.S. Senate who is more qualified to speak about torture than McCain, a former Vietnam War prisoner who endured years of torture at the hands of his captors.

Sadler popped off thoughtlessly.

Schlapp said this, according to The Hill: “Kelly is my friend. I feel bad she is going through this. She immediately called to apologize. She’s also a little bit of a victim here,” Schlapp told CNN “New Day” co-anchor Chris Cuomo.

The story has gotten national attention. It has serious legs and is threatening to keep on running until Sadler owns up publicly to her idiotic comment.

Spare us the indignation, too, over the leaking of the comment to the media. Big deal. All of those in the room are answerable to the public in the first place and millions of us out here way beyond the Beltway are damn angry that a White House functionary would be so cruel — even in “private.”

WH upset with leak more than crass comment?

There you have it. The White House press office is angrier that a crass and tasteless remark by a staffer about an ailing U.S. senator/war hero was leaked than it is about the remark itself.

That’s how I read press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s reported response to the remark.

White House aide Kelly Sadler said in a private meeting that no one should worry about Sen. John McCain’s opinion of CIA director nominee Gina Haspel because “he’s dying anyway.” McCain doesn’t like Haspel’s role in the U.S. campaign of “intense interrogation”; he calls it torture and given his own experience being tortured as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, he hates the idea. Haspel didn’t disavow the interrogation tactics to McCain’s liking and he said so.

That’s when Sadler popped off about McCain’s battle against brain cancer.

Sanders said Sadler’s remarks are “unacceptable” but then reportedly scolded the White House staff for leaking the remark in the first place.

A more appropriate topic to be discussed with White House staffers would be that (a) they are public employees answerable to the taxpayers and that (b) they need to be mindful of all the things they say, even in private.

If a chump like Sadler believes Sen. McCain is “dying anyway,” she is entitled to think those thoughts privately. Many of us out here beyond the Beltway disagree vehemently with her saying it out loud, even in a room full of other White House employees behind closed doors.

I get that Sen. McCain is an imperfect man. He was a rascal while attending the U.S. Naval Academy. He was known during his time as an aviator to be occasionally not play by every rule in the book. But then he got shot down in 1967 and endured more pain, suffering, anguish and heartache than any man should endure during his more than five years as a POW in North Vietnam.

Now he is fighting for his life. He has served with honor and distinction in service to his country for decades.

So, the White House press flack is concerned about the leaks? She should be many times more concerned that a White House staffer has a serious insensitivity streak that needs urgent repair. If she can’t control her mouth, then she needs to find another job.

That is some defense of a ‘bad joke’

I guess you can stop referring to a White House aide’s tasteless and crass remark about a stricken war hero and U.S. senator as a “reported” or “alleged” utterance.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has confirmed that Kelly Sadler made the hideous statement about Sen. John McCain in a “private meeting” at the White House.

What did Sadler say? Well, Sen. McCain came out against CIA nominee Gina Haspel because of her role in torturing enemy combatants. McCain knows about torture, as he was subjected to years of it at then hands of his captors during the Vietnam War.

Sadler said McCain’s opposition to Haspel “doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” Man, that’s a knee-slapper, ain’t it? No. It isn’t.

McCain is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is fighting for his life. For a minor-leaguer such as Sadler to say such a thing — even in telling a bad joke — is hideous in the extreme. These kinds of statements do have a way of slipping through the cracks and into the public domain.

Budget director Mulvaney is trying to excuse his colleague? Nice try, Mick. It won’t work.

What’s just as bad, though, is that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has been silent on this matter.

Sickening.

The Hill reported: “You have to have freedom to speak in a private meeting. We have all said things in private … that we would never say publicly. I think she handled it appropriately,” Mulvaney said.

No, sir. She works for the public. As do you … and the president. Public figures should be smarter and more sensitive than what Kelly Sadler has demonstrated.

She said that about a war hero?

Here is another of the “best people” Donald J. Trump said he would hire to work with him in the White House.

Her name is Kelly Sadler, a special assistant in the White House communications office. Sadler reportedly said the following in a closed-door meeting about criticism leveled against CIA director nominee Gina Haspel by U.S. Sen. John McCain:

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”

Words escape me. I’ll try: disgraceful, detestable, reprehensible.

I cannot even begin to fathom how someone at any level could think — let alone say … allegedly — something so crass.

McCain criticized Haspel because she wouldn’t during her Senate confirmation hearing condemn torture as an “immoral” act. McCain, you see, knows torture when he sees it. He experienced it as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

Sen. McCain also is fighting a dangerous, life-threatening disease. The nation is hoping for his recovery.

Kelly Sadler’s comments — allegedly — are disgraceful in the extreme. Ah, but she’s one of the “best people.”

Sen. McCain weighs in on CIA nominee: vote ‘no’

U.S. Sen. John McCain is a bystander in the drama unfolding in Washington regarding Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Arizona Republican, though, is no ordinary cheap-seat chump. He is battling brain cancer and likely won’t get to vote on Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA. He also knows more than your average American politician about torture.

Haspel declined this week to answer a question from Sen. Kamala Harris, who demanded a yes-or-no response: Do you believe torture is immoral. Haspel didn’t provide the answer that Harris wanted. Haspel took part in “enhanced interrogation” of enemy combatants while working as a deep-cover agent for the CIA.

McCain said Haspel’s non-response to Harris’s question is a deal-breaker and he has urged his Senate colleagues to vote “no” on her nomination.

I won’t join the senator in calling for the Senate to reject Haspel’s nomination. But I do understand his belief that torture is not in keeping with who we are as a nation. He knows of which he speaks.

McCain was a Navy aviator when he was shot down in 1967 over Hanoi, North Vietnam. He parachuted during the Vietnam War into a lake and was taken captive. He spent the next five-plus years as a prisoner of war. He was tortured, held in solitary confinement for years on end. He has never recovered fully from the injuries he suffered when he was shot down or from the injuries inflicted by his captors.

So, when Sen. McCain says torture is wrong, I listen carefully to what he says. I happen to agree with him and I disagree vehemently with what Donald J. Trump said while campaigning for the presidency, which is that waterboarding doesn’t go far enough in trying to extract actionable intelligence from our enemies.

I’m still pondering my own thoughts about Haspel’s nomination. I like the fact that she’s a career spook who knows the ins and outs of the agency she has been asked to lead. I am troubled by her inability or unwillingness to declare her view on the morality or immorality of torture as an interrogation technique.

If there is a moral authority on torture among today’s crop of U.S. politicians, it would be Sen. John McCain.

McCain wants Trump to stay away, but wait …

Sen. John McCain reportedly has made his feelings known about Donald J. Trump: He doesn’t want the president of the United States to attend his funeral, according to what the media are reporting.

That is Sen. McCain’s call. I won’t challenge it, nor should anyone else.

But let me put out just another perspective on this kind of antipathy and whether it should follow someone to the grave.

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was running for president when a gunman shot him to death on June 5, 1968. He sought to succeed President Lyndon Johnson, a man he detested with virtually every fiber of his being. What’s more, the feeling was so very mutual, as LBJ loathed RFK with equal fervor.

Sen. Kennedy was just 42 years of age when he died and likely didn’t give much thought to who should attend his funeral, let alone express it to anyone close to him.

RFK’s requiem took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Among the attendees were President Johnson, along with first lady Lady Bird Johnson.

It was generally known in 1968 that Sen. Kennedy and President Johnson detested each other. I don’t recall in the moment much public discussion about whether the president should attend the funeral of his bitter political foe.

So, he did.

It begs the question, though, for the present day: Given Sen. McCain’s reported desire that Donald Trump stay away from his funeral, should the president honor the senator’s request when that sad day arrives?

The nature of today’s media climate suggests to me the president would be smart to stay away. Memories are long and my hunch is that Trump’s presence at a ceremony that would pay tribute to a war hero whose service he once denigrated would dilute the honor that Sen. McCain will so richly deserve.

McCain is the anti-Trump in every possible way

I hereby endorse the thoughts expressed in a wonderful New York Times essay by columnist Frank Bruni.

They are simple and right to the point: U.S. Sen. John McCain is virtually everything that Donald J. Trump is not.

McCain is a man of honor who has sacrificed for his country in ways the rest of us only can imagine; Trump has thought only of himself.

McCain is quick to embrace his former foes; Trump holds grudges.

McCain doesn’t dwell on the immense pain and suffering he endured while being held captive during the Vietnam War; Trump demands pity for any slight, real or imagined.

Bruni’s essay is written as a tribute to a man, Sen. McCain, who is fighting for his life. Tragically, it appears to be a fight he won’t win ultimately.

I want to share the essay here. It’s worth your time.

Bruni honors McCain.

I share Bruni’s view that even though one can disagree with Sen. McCain’s politics, one can admire him greatly for the character he has shown in his public life and for the courage he is demonstrating as he wages this valiant fight.

As Bruni writes about Sen. McCain: “I don’t remember another time in my life when so many Americans considered someone’s partisan affiliation a test of whether that person was entitled to their respect,” he writes, ruefully, adding that while (Joe) Biden, Ted Kennedy and other Democratic friends of his never voted for the same candidate for president as he did, his friendships with them “made my life richer, and made me a better senator and a better person.”

Such grace is unimaginable from Trump. That’s why it’s so vital that McCain is using his waning time to model it.

Sen. McCain shares good times and bad with his friends

I hate, despise, detest the thoughts I am about to express in this blog post, but it needs to be said that they’re talking openly about the end for U.S. Sen. John McCain.

His friends are gathering to wish the senator well as he battles a virulent and aggressive form of brain cancer. Sen. McCain is presenting a brave public front, but it is looking grim … or so it appears, according to recent media reporting.

His longtime friends, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, have visited him. McCain reportedly has told Biden to “not give up on politics,” in what appears to be something of a tacit endorsement of him to run for president in 2020.

He has written of his regret in not selecting another dear friend, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2008 when he lost the presidential election to Sen. Barack H. Obama. Lieberman has visited his friend, too, in Arizona.

There have been many others, according to The New York Times.

Then there is this stunner, as reported by the Times: Sen. McCain’s “intimates” have informed the White House that the senator wants Vice President Mike Pence to attend his funeral, but not Donald Trump, with whom McCain “has had a rocky relationship.”

Hmm. Imagine that. Trump’s disparagement of McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War seems to have stuck in the senator’s craw since Trump declared that Sen. McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured” by North Vietnamese. Trump, of course, didn’t acknowledge the torture McCain endured during his more than five years as a captive in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. Or that McCain refused an early release because he didn’t want to abandon his fellow POWs while giving the North Vietnamese a PR bonanza, given that McCain’s father commanded U.S. naval forces during that time.

I have grown to admire Sen. McCain over many years. I didn’t vote him for president. I don’t regret my decision to endorse his opponent in 2008, Barack Obama. Nor do I shy away from my view that McCain is an honorable man who has given far more in service to his country than almost anyone.

I want him to defeat the illness that has ravaged him. I fear he won’t.

Thus, I am preparing for some deep sadness.

No one knows how much ‘time they have left’

U.S. Sen. John S. McCain said the following regarding his struggle against brain cancer: “Maybe I’ll have another five years, maybe with the advances in oncology they’ll find new treatments for my cancer that will extend my life. Maybe I’ll be gone before you hear this, my predicament is, well, rather unpredictable.”

The Arizona Republican made that assessment on an audio recording relating to his new book, which is to be published later this month.

I want to offer a bit of perspective that I hope, dear reader, you take in the spirit I offer it. I offer this to give Sen. McCain more than a glimmer of hope in his valiant fight.

It is merely that no one knows “how much longer” they’ll be here.

I enjoy good health. I don’t expect to die in the next 30 minutes. No one — except those intent on purposely ending their life — should know when their time is up.

I surely want Sen. McCain to beat the disease he is battling. I want him to return to the Senate, where he has served for more than three decades. I want him to continue to speak out, to lend his voice to the issues of the day. Will I agree with him always? Oh, probably not. Indeed, I’m likely to disagree him more than agree with the senator.

I get the fatalism he is expressing in his memoir, “The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations,” but let’s seek to keep it in some semblance of perspective. It well might be that McCain believes he has been living on borrowed time as it is, given what he endured from 1967 to 1973 as a Vietnam War prisoner who suffered unbearable and unspeakable torture at the hands of his captors.

I want him to draw a bit of strength from the belief that no one can know when the end will come. No one!